Sunday 11th January saw the opening of the Sangharakshita Library at Adhisthana.
Hattie Johnson, of the Adhisthana team, writes: “About 80 people gathered to mark the opening of the Sangharakshita Library. Vajragupta welcomed us all and rejoiced in the many people who have brought the Library into being, particularly Ratnadharini, Ajjavin and Yashodeva.
Vidyadevi gave a talk titled ‘Gathering Wisdom While We May’. Evoking the mythic, as well as practical, significance of the library she described how it had grown out of a nucleus of 100 books that Bhante had brought back with him from India and how she and a band of helpers had managed to identify those 100 books - by looking at the bibliography of A Survey of Buddhism.
These 100 volumes are displayed, together with a tablet of the Heart Sutra, in the room housing Bhante’s collection of Dharma books. Other rooms hold his collections of literature, philosophy and poetry books, alongside the reading room, archive, reference library and exhibition space and a shrine room.
Vidyadevi described Bhante’s vision of the library as preserving his lineage of teaching, and how over time the vision of Adhisthana has grown to encompass all four lineages; teachings, practices, institutions and inspiration.
She spoke of libraries as symbols of freedom of expression and the sharing of knowledge; she described a 9th century painting of Hsuan Tsang on the Silk Road accompanied by a tiger, the sack of books on his back emitting the fragrance of the Dharma; and conjured up an image of the naga princess appearing from the depths of the ocean with the Perfection of Wisdom sutras. (This image appears on the front cover of Metaphors, Magic and Mystery, an anthology of Bhante’s writings and teachings on words and their relation to the truth, edited by Vidyadevi and published by Windhorse Publications to mark the library opening.)
Ending with tea and cake, people had a chance to explore. Some of Bhante’s rupas and thangkhas were on display, including eight manifestations of Padmasambhava out of storage for the first time in 25 years. Bhante had given a visitors’ book to the library, which everyone was invited to sign. Though he could not attend, he looked forward to reading the day’s entries.”
90th birthday exhibition To mark Sangharakshita’s 90th birthday in August this year, the Library’s first exhibition will feature objects chosen by Bhante, one from each decade of his life, together with his commentary on the objects.
Volunteer or become a Friend of the Sangharakshita Library To volunteer in the library, and/or become its Friend, please library [at] adhisthana.org (email the librarian,) Danasamudra.